Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Review: Butter by Erin Jade Lange

Title: Butter
Author: Erin Jade Lange
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction
Source: Faber and Faber Ltd

Goodreads rating: 3.74 out of 5.00 (700+ ratings)
Goodreads link

A lonely obese boy everyone calls "Butter" is about to make history. He is going to eat himself to death-live on the Internet-and everyone is invited to watch. When he first makes the announcement online to his classmates, Butter expects pity, insults, and possibly sheer indifference. What he gets are morbid cheerleaders rallying around his deadly plan. Yet as their dark encouragement grows, it begins to feel a lot like popularity. And that feels good. But what happens when Butter reaches his suicide deadline? Can he live with the fallout if he doesn't go through with his plans? 

With a deft hand, E.J. Lange allows readers to identify with both the bullies and the bullied in this all-consuming look at one teen's battle with himself.

Review by Chantelle

So, I'm a little excited about this one. And by a little, I mean I got really carried away, so presenting my review of Butter, which will be served to you in three courses. 

For entrĂ©e: Butter Whispers / Melting moments
You think I eat a lot... 
              ... I wasn't hungry ... 
                     I was far from full... 
                 ... People never looked ... 
     ...You're invited to watch.

                     They didn't even know... 
                            but there they were... 
                            ... I unleashed... 

                                   ... I would get the last word... 
                                      I was literally dying... 

                                     ... 'She won't tell,'... 'No one will... you won't.'

                                            I didn't... I wanted... 
                                           the end... even if...
                                          Maybe... my own damn fault...

                                     ... We'll talk tomorrow.
                             No we won't...

                  ...fucking liar...

             ... I'm sorry.  

            I came to howl at the moon. 

tune in....

Main: Butter Chicken
Butter was utterly captivating; from the cover, to the blurb, to the first paragraph through to the last. I honestly can't remember ever being so enamoured by one book, which unfortunately makes writing a comprehensive review a lot harder! However, if I could only use one word to describe this novel, it would probably be 'morbid', but let me explain. 

"Butter" is a teenage boy, and to make life even harder, he's morbidly obese.  At such a sensitive and pivotal stage in life, Butter's battles with self-worth, identity, romance and popularity are a lot more complicated than most. These themes are relevant to every single teenager, but throw in the often cruelty of kids or the indifference of adults and you get angst that has the ability to deeply touch every single person who reads this novel - whether they experience it everyday acutely, or witness it's effect on someone else. Erin Lange writes a disturbingly honest portrayal of a boy stuck in a vicious cycle so bleak, that he decides to take his own life, and no one stops him because no one believes he'll follow through. Bringing her story to the 21st century, Butter does this online through a haunting promise to eat himself to death. 

I fell in love with Butter in so many different ways. It did what every book should do; it surprised me, it made me laugh, it made me think, it made me feel. You know a book is important to you when you genuinely feel like a different person by the time you've turned that last page. As someone who's grown up with a sister who has struggled with weight issues all her life, I've seen how extensive and long-lasting the effects of low self-esteem can be, I've seen how bullying comes in so many forms, whether that be self-inflicted, from peers, or from adults who think calling impressionable kids "fatty" is harmless. Although Butter's situation took almost fantastical heights, the juxtaposition of his hope and imminent death created a sick thrill that thoroughly engaged me through both it's plot and moral repercussions. The only people who aren't swept away on his journey are those too insular and narrow-minded to realise that it's not as simple as 'they eat a lot, it's their own fault they're fat'. I don't think that Lange is saying that obesity is okay, I think she's trying to get people to think about why people are the way they are, why they struggle, why they're different and that it's never simple; and that this is applicable to anyone who gets bullied or is a bully. I didn't find the psychology of Butter or his sensitivities exaggerated. I relished that Lange was voicing an issue that is so relevant to today's first world societies. Lange creates a rich suburbia where there is this constant issue of entertainment, it's almost like a trap of privilege. Butter resorts to food; others the internet, parties or drinking. Do they have too much freedom? Is there a greater need for guidance or discipline. Butter just wanted one person to stop him, one person to reassure him of his existential value. Butter is an appeal to young adults to listen to those individuals who don't feel heard. 

The characters were confronting. You have Butter, who for goodness' sake refers to himself as Butter! That's not his real name, people! And yet he's endearing, he's still a teenage boy who wants the same things as any other. You have his mother who just wants him to be happy but has no idea how to help. You have doctors, and teachers, and classmates who are so conscious of bullying that they're indifferent and just ignore him. These are carefully constructed, thought out honest characters who everyone will be able to connect with in some way. 

Throughout the novel, there is this constant tug of war between self-perception and reality. Butter's journey to me, wasn't one of derogatory humiliation, it was one of self discovery and growing up. And after reading this book, the insight is truly one that I want to share with others, I can not recommend this book highly enough! And coming from me, who usually can't handle a plot unless it's championed by an epic romance, it says a lot. However, I don't want all you readers thinking that this book is too 'heavy' or 'serious' to read TODAY. It's still uplifting, it's still funny and it's still heart-warming, and I guarantee that it will be one of your favourite reads this year. That is why I think this book is morbid, it touches on such dark, uncomfortable issues and yet it affected me so immensely, that I'm just in awe of it. 

Dessert: Butter playlist, 5 ways
I tend to listen to songs while I read to dampen outside noises. Five songs had melodies that drew me out of my reading-Butter-filled stupor, and had lyrics that compelled me to share them with you. To those of you who have read the novel, I think you know which songs are appropriate for whom. 

Russian Roulette - Rhianna
One Step Closer - The Rippingtons
White Horse - Taylor Swift
My Kind of Love - Emeli Sande
Titanium - Avery Wilson, the end!

I hope you've enjoyed my review! Please read Butter, it is seriously that good. 

Overall: 10/10
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 4/5

Thank you so much to Faber and Faber Ltd for giving me such an amazing, insightful novel for review!



  1. What an absolutely intriguing book! Thanks for sharing your review.

    1. Thanks so much! I hope you read it and love it :)